Is your image competition-worthy?

By Ellen Bedrosian

While showing images of waterfalls in Iceland during his landscape photography program a few weeks ago, Nick Palmieri said something that stuck with me. While comparing two different views of the same scene, his favorite was the unconventional interpretation. “I have this one hanging in my office, but it didn’t score well in competition,” he said. One of the more traditional views did score well, however. To see Nick’s images, visit his Waterfalls of Iceland gallery.

He also said that he wouldn’t enter in competition some images that he has the most emotional connection to because he knows they wouldn’t score well. It did get me thinking about the purpose of competitions. Is it to win, or is it to display our artistic visions? Sometimes serendipity strikes the Rodda Center on a Tuesday evening. Artisitic vision lines up with the judge’s determination of what constitutes an excellent image, and voila! Our image scores a 9, like this image of mine from Eastern State Penitentiary.


I’m not sure about the other club members, but 90 percent of the time, I enter images that I like. That I have an emotional connection to, regardless of how I think they will probably score. I remember one member’s incredoulous remark about my image of a blurry New York City skyline I planned to enter: You’re going to enter that? I laughed and said, “Why not? I like it.” The judge said it was an interesting concept, but it didn’t do anything for him, so he scored it a 6. I can deal with that score because it was his honest reaction, and I respect that. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

And it wasn’t that he was so traditional that he didn’t understand blur and motion because he scored another blurred image by a different member pretty high, maybe an 8.

“Every photograph is a battle of form versus content. Great photography is always on the edge of failure.” – Garry Winogrand

I think Garry Winogrand is onto something. Since competitions are really our only opportunity to share our images and get feedback on them (except, of course, for the Teaneck Camera Club Flickr Group) I’ll continue to use competitions as a conduit for sharing my creative vision and, provided that it is a technically sound composition, hope that it moves others the way it moved me.

Spread the word


  1. rachel

    You are such a good writer….. love your blogs….I would hire you in a second!!! Good job….
    Rachel :))

  2. Fidel V.

    Thanks for this great article. I completely agree and I wish for myself that I will never take images thinking it’s for competition purposes only. Otherwise, where’s the joy of photography?

    Awesome work.

Comments are closed.